More dark roots are explored in this edition of HEAVY ROOTS and this time we focus on the legendary Black Sabbath. Any heavy band that tells you they weren’t influenced by this band are either lying, or no good.
Legendary Guitarist Toni Iommi and drummer Bill Ward had left their band Mythology in 1968 and took on vocalist John Michael ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler in Ashton, Birmingham. Coincidentally, Osbourne had put an advert in the local paper with the title, ‘Ozzy Zig Needs Gig – has own PA’. Initially, the band had the bizarre name of The Polka Tulk Blues Band and later changing it to Earth. Later that year, Iommi joined Ian Anderson in his legendary group Jethro Tull. Early as January 1969, Iommi left Jethro Tull to rejoin Earth since he was unhappy with the direction the band was taking. However, footage of Iommi playing with Anderson can be seen on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus TV Show below:
In 1969 Earth changed their name to Black Sabbath after the Mario Bava‘s’ 1963 cult horror film of the same name. Their first show was held at the end of August in Worthington. In February on Friday the 13th, the iconic self-titled debut Black Sabbath was released and history was made with tracks such as Behind the Wall of Sleep, The Wizard, Wicked World, the title track and N.I.B.
Later that year the band released the seminal album Paranoid after the first single. It was originally named War Pigs, a song that was critical at the time of the Vietnam War, which forced Warner to change its name. Apart from the two aforementioned tracks, the album also featured such greats as the jazzed up Fairies Wear Boots, the anthemic Iron Man, and the beautifully written Planet Caravan that was covered by Pantera.
The bands most drugged-up years brought 1971’s Masters of Reality with track opener Sweet Leaf being a tribute to marijuana. Vol. 4 from the following year featured the brilliant and cocaine-inspired,Snowblind, a song later covered by System of A Down, one of many bands Ozzy helped when they were starting out at his infamous Ozzfest.
In 1973 the band would release Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which featured the catchy title track Sabbra Cadabra and Killing Yourself to Live. Sabotage would follow in 1975 and the album featured greats such as the heavily covered Hole In The Sky, Symptom of the Universe and the catchy Am I going Insane? (Radio)
The following two records 1976’s Technical Ecstasy and 1978’s Never Say Die saw Ozzy‘s battle with alcoholism causing him to leave with the support of his soon-to-be-wife Sharon Arden. The albums nonetheless had some great tracks on them such as Dirty Woman, title track Never Say Die and A Hard Road, the latter of which was self-explanatory.
Sharon would hire former Rainbow vocalist, the late great Ronnie James Dio.
Dio recorded Heaven and Hell in 1980 and Mob Rules the following year with the band.
Dio left the band to start his eponymous solo band in 1983, taking Bill Ward’s replacement Vinny Appice with him and released a number of killer records worth checking out. If you haven’t, “you are not worthy!” as Wayne and Garth would tell you.
Anybody who is a fan of comedic actor Jack Black would even know who the man is with him winning an award and dedicating it to the man himself.
Due to Dio and Appice leaving, Ward rejoined to play drums on 1984’s Born Again with Ian Gillan of Deep Purple fame on vocals.
This was a somewhat underrated album with great tracks such as Trashed and Zero the Hero, with Cannibal Corpse doing a brutal cover.
After the Born Again tour, Gillan left to rejoin Deep Purple and Iommi was the only remaining member of Sabbath. He decided to release a solo record titled Seventh Star. Due to legal matters, it was known as Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi and featured Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple playing bass and providing vocals. A number of vocalists fronted Sabbath, with Tony Martin on 1987’s The Eternal Idol, 1989’s Headless Cross, 1990’s Ty, 1994’s Cross Purposes and his final record with the band being 1995’s Forbidden.
Dio returned with the band in 1992 for the Dehumanizer record. The hard rocking TV Crimes pleased many Dio fans.
Apart from guesting on albums such as Cathedral‘s 1995 classic The Carnival Bizarre, Iommi has made three solos records featuring the talents of Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl, Phil Anselmo, Serj Tankian and Billy Corgan.
In 2004 the 1996 Demo Sessions were released featuring Glen Hughes and a year later Fused was released, also featuring Glen Hughes on vocals.
Whilst there will be no more new music from Sabbath, Ozzy is not going to pack up his bags just yet. Continuing with his solo career and Ozzfest, things are once again looking up with his wife Sharon too. This is great news for the family we all have grown to love, whether it be from catching up with the family on MTV’s The Osbournes series or Kelly and her musical career.
In our next edition, we will also take a look at Ozzfest as it has branched off for so many bands.
To be continued…